The 3 Es of Youth Mental Health Education,

Here is a picture of my brother 18 years old and me 15, at a time in our lives that our mental health started to decline to crisis levels.  One of the most important things in my work and life is to support youth mental health, wellness, and addiction education.  This blog post is an introduction to some of the work I’m doing and how we can develop better ways of providing youth with tools to support their wellness and mental health.

Youth Mental Health Education needs to be a top priority of our education systems. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.  The education system is obsessed with standardized tests and traditional subjects such as math, science and English.  I’m not saying they’re not important, what I’m saying is nothing should take a back seat to the importance of personal wellness and mental health.

Suicide is the #1 cause of death in the “developed” world (outside of car accidents) for people between the ages of 15-24. Our response to this crisis is terribly inefficient. It’s important to acknowledge that up to this point, educators, politicians and mental health organizations haven’t had the knowledge or experience to address this crisis. I’d argue that now we do.

How can we invigorate youth mental health education? Awareness is important, but it’s time to develop platforms for young people to internalize what all this “mental health awareness talk” means.

Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence are the most important tool we can give to young people to support their wellness, resilience, quality of life and ability to navigate a challenging time in their life. Thankfully mindfulness and emotional intelligence is gaining support among western scientific and intellectual communities. I’d like to develop a community to discuss, share, and help the people involved who are passionate about helping youth benefit from a better system of education, empowerment, and engagement. The 3Es!

Please share your thoughts, ideas, experiences, and comments.

How are you?

The ‘how are you?’ – conundrum.

“How are you today?  (Wait… did I just say that? Now’s a bad time to chat. Neither of us are interested in having a conversation)  See you later.”

Does this narrative sound familiar?

What I meant to say was, “hello”

Today the question “how are you?” is a meaningless greeting that reflects the sad state of our immature communication skills.

What happened to saying “hello?” Asking “how are you?” should imply you will look a co-worker, friend or acquaintance in the eyes and listen to them.  If you don’t care how they’re doing, or don’t have the time to listen, don’t say “how are you?” say hello.

If you don’t care how the person you’re greeting is doing, you should. For one, as humans, our well-being is collective. Two, learning to care for others is a fundamental human trait which seems to be absent from our day-to-day lives. Three, improving our individual relationships is core to resolving the challenges we face as a  global community.

We’re more concerned with our toys, social media stats and other meaningless status symbols we’ve come to worship.  There are more reasons why you should care about co-workers, friends and acquaintances but I’d need to write an essay to cover them.

Over the next week, bring awareness to how often you ask someone “how are you?” Bring attention to your thoughts and feelings at the time. Figure out if you’re interested or open to a response.  When the time is right ask someone how they’re doing sincerely. Listen and be there for them, enjoy experiencing this fundamental human interaction.  As you get more comfortable in these moments, your ability to be present and compassionate will blossom and you’ll empower others to communicate their emotions.

When we show each other compassion, sincerity and honesty, amazing things happen. These are essential to our mental health and well-being. Practice conscious and sincere communication in your life and we’ll enjoy the benefits together.

Starts With Me